Tivat, Montenegro: An Up And Coming European Aviation Destination?

Tivat in Montenegro will see SAS, Norwegian, Jet2, Condor and easyJet launch flights there this summer. For most of these airlines, these will be their first routes to Tivat and to Montenegro. In the last two years, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Brussels Airlines and TUI arrived for the first time. Why is Tivat booming, and why now?

A Montenegro Airlines Embraer 195
A Montenegro Airlines Embraer 195 at Moscow Domodedovo. Photo: Wikmedia Commons

Why is Tivat an aviation destination?

Tivat is an international airport serving a coastal town of the same name in the Southern European country of Montenegro.

Montenegro is not in the European Union, and it is separated from the large EU economies that send tourists there by several European countries. Getting from, for example, Italy or Austria to Montenegro by car means several border crossings.

These include Croatia, which is in the EU but not in Schengen, so passport control still applies. The car journey also includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is not in Schengen either and also not in the European Union.

Consequently, Northern European tourists wishing to spend their time in Montenegro can cut more than 24 hours of travel time if they arrive to Tivat by plane instead of by car.

Tivat Montenegro Getty
Tivat in Montenegro has great tourist potential, but not enough flights to generate demand. Photo: Getty Images

Montenegro Airlines is not meeting demand

The country has a national airline, Montenegro Airlines. But the flag carrier is not keeping up with tourism growth in the country.

In fact, the airline is in such dire straits that it was recently announced it will have to be subsidized again by the Montenegrin government. It joins the likes of Air Serbia and Croatia Airlines, nearby regional airlines that have also been subsidized by their governments.

Which airlines are launching routes there?

Last summer, Lufthansa launched weekly flights from Tivat to both Munich and Frankfurt. Munich was operated as an early morning round trip on Saturdays, while Frankfurt was a Sunday afternoon return trip.

Both Munich and Frankfurt were very clearly scheduled to link onto Lufthansa’s European and international connections. This meant that Lufthansa effectively offered two weekly flights from Tivat to its worldwide network.

Lufthansa tails getty images
Lufthansa operates weekly flights from Tivat to Munich all summer long. Photo: Getty Images

Lufthansa’s introduction of flights to Tivat from Munich came less than a year after Montenegro Airlines launched this route itself. The carrier has been operating this route seasonally since 2018. It first operated the flights with its Embraer E195 but next summer it will use a Fokker 100.

Montenegro Airlines also launched a flurry of routes from Tivat recently: in 2018, along with Munich, it launched services to Copenhagen and Leipzig in Germany. In 2019 it launched Hanover, also in Germany.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Air Shuttle launched weekly flights to Helsinki in 2019 and it will launch Stockholm this summer too.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines is following in July 2020 with two-weekly services to Copenhagen operated with its Airbus A321 aircraft.

Other airlines to launch flights from Tivat in summer 2020 include easyJet to Milan Malpensa, Condor to Frankfurt, and Jet2 to Manchester and London Stansted.

All of these new routes are seasonal, and so is the vast majority of Tivat Airport’s existing network. Only flights to Moscow and Belgrade operate year-round. In fact, year-round flights to Moscow are operated by Aeroflot, Montenegro Airlines, Pobeda, and S7.

These Russian Airlines, which had a fantastic 2019, are attracted to Tivat because Montenegro is one of less than 10 European countries that do not require visas for Russian tourists.

Do you think Tivat Airport will keep growing its European destination network, or will Russia remain a primary year-round focus? Let us know in the comments below.